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Whole Foods settles BIPA case, burger chain is hauled in

Whole Foods settles BIPA case, burger chain is hauled in

A pair of food companies are in the news over biometric privacy lawsuits – one paying to end its case and the other just getting on the legal conveyor belt.

In the United States, chichi grocery retailer Whole Foods (owned by Amazon) and niche hamburger chain Five Guys are dealing with accusations that they violated the state of Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act.

A state judge this week has given preliminary approval for a $297,000 settlement between Whole Foods and 330 current and former employees at a distribution center.

The workers were required to wear Honeywell Vocollect headsets while working at the center. Voice recognition software was applied to the communications without getting express consent from the employees, as required by BIPA. Whole Foods also did not tell workers how their biometric data would be handled or when it would be deleted.

According to reporting by legal-industry trade publication Law360, it could be the first settlement of a voiceprint BIPA case.

Vocollect has been used by mega-retailer Walmart, too.

So far, there are not firsts or superlatives attached to the Five Guys case. Indeed, it feels like just another BIPA case.

A putative class action was filed just before Christmas in the Northern District Court of Illinois Eastern Division, according to analysis posted by law firm Hunton Andrews Kurth.

A former shift manager alleges in case 1:22-cv-07169 that all workers were required submit fingerprints on a restaurant’s time clock. As with most other BIPA cases, the plaintiff accuses Five Guys executives of not getting express consent or meeting other boilerplate provisions.

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